Sunday, 24 September 2023

Shark Fishing 2023

What a week of fishing! We put a lot of time in over the short trip and caught a lot of fish. Salt water: 23 sharks, 7 red drum, 3 jacks and a massive stingray. Plus; blue fish, catfish & whiting. Freshwater: 2 pickerel, 14 bowfin, loads of blue gill and a bass.

Saw some fantastic wildlife; watched dolphins hunting, pelicans & osprey diving on fish, aligators, snapping turtles, snakes, lizzards & tree frogs, massive spiders & loads of butterflies. And so much more - I could have spent the week chasing about with the camera!

Just remains for me to thank my fantastic hosts, Brooke & Sammi for their wonderful hospitality and Paulos for his phenomenonal guiding skills (and shark unhooking skills). It was a brilliant trip, and really gave me something to look forward to through the cancer year...

Tarpon - I'll be back!

Saturday, 23 September 2023

Holiday Blues

Time to re-join reality - and fly back to London. Just one more shot at beating Sammi's blue gill before I headed off for my flight...


Friday, 22 September 2023

Blacktip Bay

Tarpon: You need a lot of luck to land a tarpon from the surf - the first bit of luck is hitting one about 70-100lb - big enough to run you ragged for 2 hours - but you still stand a slim chance of landing it...

My first encounter with a tarpon was it stripping 200 yards of line off the tight drag in a few seconds - before it jumped - probably bigger than me. No chance! I fought it for 10 minutes before we parted...

I hit two others of a more reasonable size, but unfortunately the hook pulled both times. Then as quickly as they arrived they were gone. You'd think I'd be gutted but I'm not - what an experience to have!

Sharks: We were after a blacktip shark. And it didn't take long before one of the rods was ripping over in the spike - not the target but a new species 5'0" blacknose shark - and things got even better...

The other rod was away and I was connected to a very powerful fish - a blacktip! A hard fight before my prize was in the surf, measuring in at 5'4" - brilliant! Next up was a PB equalling finetooth shark...

We fished on and an even bigger blacktip found a bait - after trying to pull my arms off a 5'10" fish was at the beach - just 1" off my PB! Then a third blacktip about 4' completed the hatrick!

Jack Crevalle: As the tide peaked the sharks moved further out - and we waded out after them - a very unnerving experence watching them swim past you - but great to watch them hunting in the surf!

Despite seeing a lot of sharks no more were landed - but a new PB jack rounded out the session - stunning looking fish. Then as the tide went out so did the fish - we fished on but the last day was done.

New species - a 5'0" blacknose shark.

Target species - a 5'4" blacktip shark.

PB equalling - 4'10" finetooth shark - and a better photo.

Best blacktip of the day at 5'10" - what we were here for.

Bonus PB jack crevalle - what a beauty (about 8lb).

Thursday, 21 September 2023

A Seven?

The target was a seven foot plus shark so we headed to an inlet where Paulos thought we stood the best chance - but the water was dirty, weedy and full of sediment - conditions very much against us!

No photo of a monster today - it doesn't always work out! But a little stingray and 6 small sharks, including a sandbar shark (above) and a bonnet head (below) - can't win them all - but we enjoyed trying!

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Captain Jack

We were wading across the point of an island when we spotted stingrays swimming around us in the gin-clear water (pretty safe unless you step on one) - I looked up & butterflies were flying around us - a really magical moment & one I'll remember for a long time.

Back in the surf today and it was full of baitfish, you could see the mullet swimming through the clear waves. I managed to land two hard fighting jack crevalle - another new species added to the list. And a cast to a passing lemon shark was also picked up.

A new PB finetooth shark was a real bonus, at 4'10" it's a whopper for the species. An then something very heavy picked up the 'jack rod' - a real tug-of-war for 45 minutes as I gradually pulled an unseen monster to the beach - a new PB stingray about 120lb - what a day!

My first ever jack crevalle - beauty.

Jack number two - only small, they get up to about 50lb.

Pibb and shore coconut - I'm ending the Pibb silliness now.

Lovely lemon shark - spotted in the surf & chucked a bait to her.

New PB finetooth shark - 4'10" - about as big as they get.

New PB stingray - 120lb of pure fight - back breaking on 25lb line.

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Swamp Pike

As you can imagine I've really been looking forward to this trip, and a highlight was going to be spending a day in the boat searching for a swamp pike - perhaps a bit of a long shot - but a day in the swamp!

The target was a chain pickerel (esox niger), and hopefully some bowfin (also known as mud pike) while we were searching - links go to Wikipedia. Could we find a pickerel, a real species of esox?

Gear was an ultra-light 4' spinning rod, 4lb mono and a beetle spin lure. There was a obstacle though - the swamp was full of aligators - you had to get the fish in the boat very, very quickly!

We had a bowfin within half an hour - and right on cue a large aligator appeared and headed for the boat! Quickly netted, Paulos slammed the boat in gear and we made our escape.

A few casts later I hit a pickerel - and it shook the hook - gutted! We fished on, avoiding the gators, landing 14 bowfin - including a real monster. But with a storm looming we were running out of time...

Another chance came - but I knocked it off the hook in my rush to land it before became a snack - arggh! But then magic happened - I got one. Never have I been so pleased to land a mini-pike!!

As the storm arrived we raced for the dock - and I trolled the lure behind the boat on the way in. Yup - another one on the last cast... What a brilliant, brilliant day! Nice one Paulos!!

A bowfin - one of 14 of the day.

Monster bowfin - fantastic!

Pibb Xtra - for xtra concentration...

Where are you?

F*ck Yeah - a swamp pike!!

Last cast - pissing rain - lightning - aligators - number 2 - delighted!

Monday, 18 September 2023

Bonnet Head

Back to the beach - a different island - dirty water and a falling tide. A shark first cast - great start! Over the course of the afternoon we landed seven sharks including a bonnet head - a new species to me. I'll let the photos do the talking - another day in fishing paradise!

First cast - first lemon shark of the afternoon.

Lemon shark - 5'4"

Fine tooth shark.

Paulos catching bait - nice throw!

Pibb Xtra - king of refreshments.

Bonnet head shark - a new shark species to me.

Head shot - the smallest of the hammerhead sharks.

A new PB whiting - not much fight on a shark rod!

Last lemon shark of the day as the sun was disappearing.

Sunday, 17 September 2023

My Boy Blue

Ever since my brother sent me a photo of a blue gill I've wanted to catch one. To his pond (above) armed with a light fly rod...

And once I found out you had to get the fly to land with a 'plop' it was easy - helped by the fact there were thousands of them...

Beautiful little fish - I caught loads! I was really happy with my catch - until Sammi had one cast - and caught one three times the size!

There are only 11 bass in the pond - released in as fry in just May - yup, caught the first one - always better to be lucky than good!

And I couldn't resist chasing the bugs and butterflies about for half an hour - while mainly trying not to step on snakes!!

Saturday, 16 September 2023

Chasing Tarpon

After the storm last night we headed out to see if the mullet were off the rocks - bringing with them tarpon. They weren't. The chances of hooking one without masses of bait fish would have been like winning the lottery - an hour with no sign of mullet we needed a new plan...

BTW; if I do win the lottery I'll be back for them - probably with a very expensive fly rod and buckets of time! A short drive away we found five red drum and a 5'8" lemon shark - ridiculously close to shore, in perhaps a foot of water! Brilliant stuff!!